Digital Project Draft: Minority WASP Timeline

Since my last post on my project, I have made a lot of progress and a few changes to my work. To recap my project, I am using Knight Lab’s Timeline JS tool in order to document the lives and service of the ethnically diverse women who served in the Women Airforce Service Pilots in World War II, specifically Hazel Ying Lee, Maggie Gee, Verneda Rodriguez McLean, and Ola Mildred Rexroat.

I originally proposed also including two women who were not accepted into WASP due to the restriction of African American women, Janet Harmon Bragg and Mildred Hemmans Carter. After conducting research on each of these women, I have adjusted my plan and how I will organize my timeline. I did this for a few reasons, one of which being that the Timeline JS tool website recommends that your timeline is shorter rather than having too much information. With the lives of the four women I mentioned, as well as including some of the broader history of WASP in order to give some historical context, my timeline is already over the 20 slides that the website recommends. Perhaps if I continue this into a bigger project, I could include more women (including someone like Frances Gustavson Dias, who is incorrectly reported as Mexican American in a few sources, where her family was Portuguese/Portuguese American.) Therefore, for this project, I am zeroing in on the ethnically diverse women who were accepted into WASP in order to be more succinct, which is necessary for this digital tool.

So far, I have finished my research on each of the WASPs, inputted most of the history into the timeline, and worked on the design of the timeline. My categories for research, which translate into the groups of slides I have for the timeline, included broader WASP history and the following parts of each pilot’s life: their birth, an important part of their life that led them to WASP, when they trained for and entered WASP, a distinctive moment of their life post-WASP, and their death. I am considering adding a couple more categories, such as a significant moment during their time flying for WASP, but this depends on the sources I have and the amount of history I will already have in the timeline.

This slide is on Hazel Ying Lee’s birth. My plan is to include a photo of Lee with the picture of her birthplace Portland, OR in the background.

I have a few important steps left to finish my project. I have emailed with the official WASP archive in order to get permission to include some of their materials, especially their photographs, for my project. I hope to hear back from them as soon as possible because while I have most of the information inputted into my timeline, I do not have the photographs of the women that will make the history come alive. Because of this, I recognize that my timeline needs some work visually, so my goal is to improve this by including photographs of the women themselves and their experiences.

A screenshot of the introductory slide in the timeline (as you can tell I am waiting to be given permission to use the WASP archive’s photos!)

Additionally, when I am finished with my timeline, I plan on housing the timeline on a WordPress website. Timeline JS does not let you link directly to your timeline on WordPress, so my updated plan is to have a simple WordPress page with a description of the project and a brief history along with an image of the timeline. Then, a user could click onto the timeline from the image. I have the language for the description of my project and a brief history already included in my timeline and in my previous post, which will allow for a relatively easy transfer to the WordPress site. Lastly, while I have everything cited on each slide of the timeline, I have not yet fully added each of the citations as footnotes and formatted them correctly. 

Here is what it looks like on the back end of the Timeline JS tool…

To conclude, I have encountered a few challenges so far in this project, including the lack of many primary or secondary sources on a couple of the servicewomen, specifically Verneda Rodriguez McLean and Ola Millie Rexroat. Also, the timeline itself is fairly simple to figure out, but there are definitely parts of it that took me a while to learn! With that said, I look forward to getting access to the photos that I need and making my timeline look more interesting! Please let me know what you think! Thanks everyone!

Here is a link to my interactive timeline draft:

4 Replies to “Digital Project Draft: Minority WASP Timeline”

  1. Claudia, I love this project. It is really well done and engaging. If the WASP archive does not get back to you in time do you have a back up plan of how to include photos?

    1. Thanks Amanda! The archive responded fairly quickly to my first email, so I have hopes that they will respond somewhat soon to give me access to the materials. Even so, if I cannot use their photographs, there are photos from outside the program’s history or archives, that I could use for my project. The WASP archive definitely has the most available, especially with their class photos and the women in action, but I should be able to find enough outside of the archive to finish my timeline. Even so, a couple of the women, like I mentioned in my post, have less sources about them so they might be more of a struggle.

  2. Claudia, I found your project informative because it showcases a lot of important but forgotten faces of the early involvement of women in the military. I think the format of a timeline is a good fit to tell their stories so that we can see their progression and commitment for WASP was a passion for them.

  3. Overall, this project is coming together really well! Great to know that you are in dialog with the archive and that there is a good chance that you will get the OK to use some of their images. Adding in some more images is going to make the whole thing more engaging.

    The timeline looks great and works well. I think your idea about how to approach setting up a wordpress site to link out to the timeline is a great idea also. That is going to make the project more discoverable and also provide you some space to round the whole thing out with things like short profiles on each of your primary subjects.

    One thing to consider is that it might be good to us a different term than “minority” as the way of naming and framing the project. That is, you could potentially use “Women of Color” or approach the whole thing with a different kind of title, like “Diverse Stories in Women’s History in the Airforce.”

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